Proof: Chinese Have Least Fei Hua

Measuring the content of a language.


Finally, a scientific validation of what we already knew intuitively!

Brad Plumer over at Ezra Klein’s blog has a link to a Time article where researchers coded languages to see which ones were more information-dense—meaning they contained more meaning per syllable. English is fairly dense, with a score of .91.

Mandarin Chinese was the densest language studied, with a score of .94.

Japanese scored pathetically, scoring a mere .49.

Clearly this should be taken as definitive proof that the Chinese have the least amount of fei hua, useless speech, while the Japanese will talk your ears off but say nothing.

But wait, what’s that?

Despite those differences, at the end of, say, a minute of speech, all of the languages would have conveyed more or less identical amounts of information.

Aw, nuts.

Humor aside, it’s an interesting article on how the spoken speed of a language will vary due to the information density, with the result being an equal amount of information being transmitted in the same amount of time.